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I have watched every episode at least twice over the past 5 years (we got this series a little later than the UK of course). It's realistic cut throat, no holds barred depiction of UK police corruption was leading edge. Presented in the UK at a time when confidence in the UK police was at a record low, this show encapsulated the feelings of the day. It is very well acted, the principals gelling nicely right from the first episode. The third series is less tight and focussed, which explains why the main cast members refused to sign up for a 4th series. Neil Pearson (one of the sexiest men on the screen these days) is extremely convincing as Tony Clark. In fact, I can't think of any weak performances at all. great writing too. certainly a "10"
Investigating corruption is a police matter. But what happens when the
corruption comes from inside?
When those entrusted with keeping law and order are those who break the vital code of conduct?
Between the Lines is a powerful and controversial drama which tackled the touchy subject of the police investigating themselves.
Created by John Wilsher and produced by Tony Garnett, the man behind the controversial 1970s series Law and Order, the drama is a tough and uncompromising analysis of that dilemma.
Neil Pearson, perhaps best known for his role as womanising reporter Dave in Drop The Dead Donkey, took the lead role as Det Supt Tony Clark, ambitious head of Mulberry Street police station, who is asked to launch an investigation into his own men.
Recruited by the Complaints Investigations Bureau, he soon finds himself in the uncomfortable and loathesome situation of infiltrating his own station.
The first two series were superb, with great support from Tom Georgeson, Siobhan Redmond and the late Tony Doyle of Ballykissangel fame.
However, by the time a third run was commissioned, Garnett went against his better judgement and obliged with a lacklustre end to the saga.
It was a mistake he wouldn't repeat a few years later for his outstanding series This Life.
The first two series were about the work of the Police Complaints Department. The slightly disappointing third series was basically about a team of private eyes who used to work together in the Police. I would have preferred all the characters to have remained in the Police Complaints department because to take them out, just made it into a normal detective programme. All of the regular cast were more than excellent, but my favourite was actually John Deakin, the villain of the piece. My favourite quote was when Deakin spoke to Superintendent Graves in the Toilets and went something like, " Whilst Clarke may considerably p*ss me off, my dislike of him pales into insignificance compared with my permanent and utter contempt for you. Got It ? " Some of the scenes between Harry Naylor and his dying wife Joyce ( Serious Crumpet ! )were very well done.
It seems unlikely anyone would be able to make a series like this in today's television climate, given the preference today for light drama with happy endings, which this series eschewed almost constantly, almost masochistically so. Yet no series made since this one ever felt as real and believable as this did. The second series moved away from police complaints to the increasing involvement of MI5 and managed to be even better. Certainly the portrayal of Box 500 here seemed much more real and convincing than "Spooks". Indeed this is the series that "Spooks" wishes it was and the plot lines featured were much more gripping and believable than "Spooks" managed without having to resort to our heroes saving London and/or the world every week. Even the maligned third series, where Clark, Naylor and Connell go private, is still better than most dramas today. The producers had the good sense to call it a day after the third series and at least every episode ever made is preserved for posterity on DVD to be savoured again and again. When will something of the quality of this series ever get made again? Not for a long time, if ever, I fear.
... Watch the first two series and ignore the third because series one
and two are amongst the best drama the BBC produced in the 1990s
The format for this show revolved around Detective Superintendent Tony Clark who was drafted into the Police Complaints Investigations Bureau where he and his two colleagues chain smoking scouser Harry Naylor and ginger haired Scottish lesbian Maureen Connell have to investigate complaints made against policemen . In many ways it's like a cross between the Richard Gere movie INTERNAL AFFAIRS and the classic British cop show THE SWEENEY with gritty story lines like a local police squad rolling drunks for their money , an episode where a man waving a replica gun is shot dead by police marksmen leading to riots orchestrated by the estate's drug dealers and manipulated by a Chief Superintendent , a retiring senior cop suspected of being bent and perhaps the best episode centered on an undercover cop who has infiltrated a neo Nazi group but is believed to have gone native . All these story lines are believable and almost certainly reflect the growing disenchantment the British public have for the police . You're not going to confuse this with DIXON OF DOCK GREEN since the lead anti hero Tony Clark seemed to be a bit obsessive in letting women get their hands on his truncheon !
It spearheaded BBC 1's Autumn schedule and received massive critical acclaim from the critics and for the first two years BETWEEN THE LINES was a winner . Then for some reason known only to the producers the format was changed , no longer were Tony , Harry and Mo employed by CIB , they were drafted into another secretive government department similar to MI5 . What this meant was that the credible story lines featuring , corrupt , violent or just plain over zealous cops were now replaced by plots featuring international politics and terrorists ! A ginger haired Scottish lesbian as a Bond girl ? I don't think so . There is one episode in the third series involving the trio to go under cover at a hotel that feels like it belongs in the previous two series but the other plots are so laughably over developed it's like watching either a parody or an entirely different show . I mean anti vivisectionists running around with bombs and Uzi 9 mms ! And the series ends on a BLAKES 7 type cliffhanger after Tony and Harry infiltrate a gun running operation by the Ulster Volunteer Force . The series never returned after this and since the critics were bitterly disappointed by the direction that the third series had taken not too many people petitioned for its return
Between the Lines is gripping police drama about the CBI investigating abuse of police powers and corruption within the force. The first remarkable thing is that BTL has a fairly unlikeable protagonist: womanizing career police man Tony Clarke who is really blackmailed into joining the CBI. He acts so irresponsibly in his personal life throughout the series that it is really difficult to sympathize with him (and he wears the worst fitting suits I have ever seen). On the other hand he is very emotional about his job and also really professional about it (unless his private life or hormones get in the way) in spite of the fact that he really hates his job. His team consists of bisexual Maureen Connell and veteran copper Harry Naylor whose wife develops a terminal illness in the second series. These three really complex characters really carry the show. The standard of writing is also fairly high. The stories are complex and satisfying which is not easy to achieve in a 45 minutes format. However, in the second season they become formulaic in terms of the CBI's impotence to deal with corruption in the force. You can't help wondering why they bother at all. Apart from the strong performances of the cast (with the possible exception of the rather one dimensional DCS Graves) the series also has some episodes that are visually very well made particularly the inteview situation. For 1992 the first season is also groundbreakling in its depiction of nudity as you see some full frontal shots of Clark's beautiful girlfriend and you see Jaye Griffith's bottom.
To my mind, this show, now 15 years old (well, nearly) is an excellent
portrayal of the progress, or not, of its main character.
Well placed, and pushing all the right buttons, he was promoted but with a qualifier:- do this s$$t job and... so he was transferred into a job he didn't request, nor did he care for in any way, shape or form.
But, he was told, if do this you will get what you really want:- all in the fullness of time. This, over the course of the first season, proved to be BS. Luckily, or unluckily, he was blessed with a good team. He was interested in doing a good job and thought, wrongly, that it was a means to an end. Wrong, indeed. If he had not had a strong team, or if he had not been motivated to do a good job, for the job's sake, he would not have found himself in the situations revealed in Seasons Two and Three.
Without wishing to prolong the agony here, the three seasons are an excellent demonstration of a downward spiral of a police officer's career attributable largely to external forces, coupled with his own inability to cope with these forces.
Been there done that, bought the Tee shirt.
And where do I buy the DVDs ??
"Between the Lines" was a show which reflected British television's attitude to the police in the Thatcher years...namely, that the police are brutal, corrupt and fascist. If the show was merely about corrupt officers, then it could have made for gripping drama, but it had a heavy political agenda so corruption was always from up on high and institutionalised. One or two episodes of this might have been gripping, but it was constant and often Neil Pearson's character would often act as an apologist for the criminals. One of the more ludicrous episodes featured Pete Postlethwaite as a senior Metropolitan Police commander putting down a riot (by good lefties or course) which he agitated and he ends up quoting the speech made in the Falklands War: "The flag is flying over Port Stanley"...oh, is this a dig at Thatcher? But apart from the student level politics, the show gained notoriety and earned the nickname "Between the Loins" for its preponderance for sex scenes bang on the stroke of the 9 o'clock watershed. Any chance for Pearson to drop his trousers (but always in a sensitive way) and he'd grab it. Sometimes it seemed he'd abandon a case to get some more sex...can't say I blame him.
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